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Palace hits Amnesty Int’l for ‘demonizing’ PDEA

/ 07:00 AM October 15, 2017
Ernesto Abella

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Malacañang yesterday slammed Amnesty International for “demonizing” the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency after it was tasked with leading the government’s war on drugs.

“The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency … is now being demonized by Amnesty International (AI),” said presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.

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On Friday, Singaporean academic and former politician James Gomez, who is now AI international director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, expressed concern that the designation of PDEA may just be a public relations move to appease public indignation.

But Abella noted AI has always been disparaging of the government’s antidrugs campaign and was only shifting its attention to the PDEA.

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“PDEA is the new object of AI’s, and similar groups’, ire and vilification,” Abella said.

Abella hit the British nonprofit organization after President Duterte himself criticized European diplomats in the country for not speaking up about the supposed misrepresentation of the Progressive Alliance and the Party of European Socialists, which also criticized the government’s war on drugs.

Belatedly disowned

The President said European ambassadors only belatedly disowned the delegation.

“Why did you not say it immediately? You kept your silence when they were yakking here,” he told the diplomats, who were not present, in a speech in Dumaguete City on Friday.

Nevertheless, Abella said the government would proceed with its drive to make the Philippines a crime, corruption and illegal drug-free nation.

“We are hopeful that operations of this agency will not be jeopardized by the interference of outside agencies that fail to appreciate our desire, not for a drug-tolerant, but [for a] drug-free nation,” Abella said.

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Moreover, the President also conceded on Friday that the designation of PDEA as the lead agency in the drug war was a concession to public opinion and may not be the best move.

Leaving PDEA to lead the drug war is fraught with “grave consequences,” the President said in Dumaguete.

Grave consequences

“Maybe PDEA can do it,” Mr. Duterte said. “Anyway, the law says the PDEA [should] be the lead agency… But that is fraught with so many grave consequences.”

“But [the move is] being appreciated by priests, by human rights [groups],” he said, adding in a later interview that former police general Aaron Aquino is “really good.”

“But whether his organization can cope is something else,” he said in an interview on state television.

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TAGS: Amnesty International, drug killings, Ernesto Abella, extrajudicial killings, James Gomez, PDEA, war on drugs
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